Bluplate: A Restaurant Labor Solution
After working in restaurants for almost 10 years, I realized the impact of COVID-19 on the industry while serving tables during the summer of 2020. During this time, more than 100,000 eating establishments closed their doors for good, and restaurant job openings increased by 1.4 million between 2020 and the end of 2021.
How might we relieve the effects of the restaurant labor shortage during a global pandemic?
With the pandemic, temporary work gained popularity, and is expected to make up 50% of the US workforce by 2023. Temporary work is flexible enough to keep staffing levels optimal and prevents regular employees from being overworked. This staffing model could be a way to help restaurants survive the toll of COVID-19.
Bluplate is a temporary staff marketplace for restaurants, designed to relieve the effects of the labor shortage with the help of nearby college students. Temporary student workers would help with side work that takes almost zero training, optimizing the performance of those doing higher level work.
For university students, onboarding is as simple as selecting your participating school and verifying your identity through entering sign in credentials. Before picking up shifts, students just need to submit their work documentation through the app.
For restaurant managers, their business is verified through a 3rd party application (Yelp or Google). Then managers enter inputs on their job details, location and payment information before they can start hiring.
Students are more likely to show initial interest in and complete painless job applications, especially for part-time side jobs.
Managers may be feeling panicked about not having enough staff during onboarding, so it should be quick and intuitive.
For both students and managers, currently available selections can be displayed in the search feed for same day work. Managers and students can select and request each other for that day, or for a later date by toggling all other users nearby.
Student schedules are busy and always changing on the fly, so fitting in work on their time gives them the flexibility they like.
Often managers have employees call out of work the day of their shift, and these days are typically peak business days.
For both students and managers, Bluplate enables messaging capabilities pre-shift. This lets both parties connect and verify additional details and get to know who will be working or managing.
Additionally, Bluplate notifies users of incoming or accepted work requests, which users nearby are available to cover upcoming open shifts, and reminds users to provide post-shift reviews.
Managers may want to interview or brief work candidates before their shift depending on their needs, and students may want additional details about tasks, parking, uniforms, etc.
Managers may want to start planning ahead and requesting users who can help on an upcoming busy weekend.
For both students and managers, highest ranked users will be recommended first in the search feed. This is dependent on post shift rankings for both worker and restaurant. Additionally, users can save favorites or look at user history for easy access to past users.
Student workers will be motivated to receive quality reviews and be ranked higher on the list, as well as restaurants.
Compiling lists of favorite users and history will give both student workers and managers quick access and the ability to bookmark previous users.
01 Business & End Market Expansion
Larger chain restaurants may be interested in using this type of service, as well as other types of businesses. ie: Retail, Recreational, Grocery, Pharmacy.
02 User Base Growth
Temporary workers with broader skill sets, or in different categories, could also use this service.
ie: Baristas, Bartenders, Servers, Chefs.
03 All University-Related Work
Universities may be interested in investment due to flexible work opportunity for students and advocacy for student work life balance.